“Urban Alchemy 9 is a social experiment by which we tried to capture the essence of Goa by trying to strike the perfect balance between functionality, design, history, culture and most importantly nature”.
Goa has had a deep global influence of more than 400 years over its art, architecture and culture out of which evolved a genesis of vernacular styles with a backdrop of innovative materials through trade, the history of which is honoured through this project comprising of six identical villas. The architects envisaged creating an architecture that breathes and one that embodies the same characteristics as that of a tree in nature to architecture through this group housing project Urban Alchemy 9 – Margao, Goa.
The visitor is greeted by a lightweight steel structure atop which sits an I.P.S. (Indian Patent stone) structure which envelopes a down to earth material palette comprising of terracotta bricks and various green hues of tropical plants. The use of planters placed at every floor, renders a sense of belonging to every resident and strengthens the idea that the structure should be dramatic and yet be deeply rooted to nature like a tree. The villas are planned in such a way that a green offset comprising of tropical plants is created on the side as well as rear with a large open to sky courtyard in the centre, which is the main spine consisting of paths that lead to the ‘balçao’ or entrance porch of each villa. This spine is envisioned into three areas, the entrance or the ‘Padmasana’ court, the central or the ‘Living Pavilion’ court and the ‘Rear court’. The empty throne shrine lets the viewer formulate his or her own individual understanding of supreme power.
The ‘Living Pavilion’ is synthesized around elements of a tree with the wooden columns acting as the main trunk upon which a plethora of plants represent the foliage. The emphasis of the pavilion is on the micro details and the use of contrasting materials and surfaces like the hand chiselled granite pedestal base, the wooden columns, I.P.S. and wooden louvers bound around the transparent lotus pond. The cultural influence of Goa with its hundreds of years of rituals and customs are represented by terracotta handmade sculptures or grotesque Gargoyles acting as water spouts.
The ‘Golden ratio sculpture’ dominates the rear court with a wooden figure with arms wide open placed within a handmade relief brass ring over two exposed cement walls, one in yellow ochre and the other in Yves Klein blue colour placed one behind the other. The villas themselves are designed in such a way that nothing is indoors. The large sliding glass windows connect the central courtyard to the green backyard of the villas. The ‘balçao’ or the entrance porch acts as a transition space between the living-dining area and the central courtyard. The brick work is custom designed in such a way that each brick offsets from the next in open work pattern, wrapping the walls in a permeable blanket that creates dappled daylight in particular spaces and, at night, when all the lights are on inside, the building will be seen from the streets like a glowing lattice work.
- project: Urban Alchemy 9
- location: Margao, Goa, India
- architects: Ankit Prabhudessai
- lead architects: Ar. Ankit Prabhudessai
- team: Ar. Sagar Kamat, Ar. Janice Viegas, Rupali Naik
- area: 10,094-sq.ft
- manufacturers: Nitco Limited, Jaquar, Costa Ceramics, Clay Club – Ahmedabad, Mr. Farmer, Hybec Lighting, Bharat Floorings
- civil consultant: Eng. Vidhyadhar Kakodkar
- clients: Urban Alchemy
- year of completion: 2017
- photographs: Prashant Bhat